Old School Footy Discussion

Big Pete

Big Pete

International Captain
Mar 12, 2008
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Rugby League has such a rich history, I thought it was time to create a catch-all to discuss past greats and incidents that have defined the greatest sport of all.

Melbourne Storm The Start of a Dynasty

At the risk of turning off my fellow Broncos fans, I'd like to kick off this thread with the most dominant team in the competition the Melbourne Storm. They were basically a Super League amalgamation of the Hunters Mariners, Western Reds and a couple of greats in Glenn Lazarus and Tawera Nikau.

In the early days they built their success on playing quality flat football where their tireless forwards would work the ball over the advantage line and give players like Brett Kimmorley and Scott Hill the space to conjure up plays. They could play really entertaining football but their 1999 premiership was built on their resolve and ability to drag themselves back into contests.

It appeared as if Melbourne were going to have a similar run as the Brisbane Broncos until tragedy struck at the start of the 2000 season when football manager Michael Moore died after a prank gone wrong. While over in Auckland for the season opener against the Auckland Warriors, Moore dived off a wharf and allegedly hit his head against a platoon and drowned.

Those at the club spoke about the impact that had on the players. Players like star halfback Brett Kimmorley decided to leave the club and eventually coach Chris Anderson would also depart mid-way through 2001. Melbourne still had a strong foundation but they were just rudderless and the star players like Marcus Bai and Robbie Ross were struggling to make the same impact like they once had.

Step up to the plate Craig Bellamy.

For Bellamy it was between Melbourne Storm and the Wests Tigers. Looking at the two prospects, Melbourne was by far the most sensible decision and it's a real credit to Tim Sheens that he somehow managed to beat Bellamy to his first premiership.

When Bellamy arrived he had a really good mix of youth and experience.

Senior Players - Kearns, Kearney, Bai, Howe, Danny Williams
Prime Players - Geyer, Ross, Hill, Kidwell, Orford, Bell
Rookies - C. Smith, Slater, Johnson

Smith and Slater would go onto become two of the best players of their generation and Dallas of course became a Queensland great. However there were other young players who have almost been lost in time like giant prop forward Robert Tanielu, UK Prop Forward Keith Mason and two young halves who Melbourne had big plans with in Michael Russo and Marty Turner. At the time, it was Russo and not Cronk who was considered the best halves prospect coming through. However both were involved in a serious car accident that derailed both their careers. They stayed around but the accident changed them.

Those initial three years of Bellamy's reign could all be summed up in the first NRL game he coached Melbourne. Coming up against Cronulla who had qualified for the Prelim Final the year before, Melbourne found themselves down by 22 points early in the first half. However on the back of some sensational solo efforts from Billy Slater and some quality attacking football from Orford and Bell the Storm managed to pull off a remarkable 36-32 win.

Melbourne were the polar opposite of what they are today. They played a really expansive style of football that gave players like Orford, Hill, Smith and Slater an opportunity to shine. The issue with Melbourne is that they could never replicate those performances week to week or sometimes half to half. They were their own worst enemies and they were a tipsters nightmare.

In those early days you could see the basic template of what Bellamy wanted. Big Fijian winger Semi Tadulala received an extended opportunity to stake his claims. Kirk Reynoldson, a hard-working no-frills forward became a cult hero under Bellamy and ended up signing a marquee contract at Newcastle. Then signings like Steve Turner (speed), Ben MacDougall (big body difficult to tackle centre) and Alex Chan (underrated mature forward with skill) also revealed his tastes in players.

What Bellamy did well during those initial years is that he struck a good balance where he made Melbourne competitive by playing to their strengths while also bringing in his type of players. On top of C. Smith, Slater, Johnson - Matt King, Antonio Kaufusi, Jake Webster and Ryan Hoffman all made their debuts that year. He didn't rush their development but he made it clear to everyone what the future of the club was going to look like.

Matt King is a good example of how effective Bellamy is as a coach. King was playing reserve grade at Cronulla and was considering quitting the sport altogether. Matt Orford who had played with King at the Northern Eagles brought this to Bellamy's attention and told him to give him a chance. King took it with both hands and as they say the rest is history. He's also another example of the prototypical Bellamy back - a big body high ceiling type of player.

Behind the scenes, Peter O'Sullivan was working over-time to sign up the best young talent in Greg Inglis, Israel Folau, Will Chambers, Adam Blair, Sam Tagataese and even a few players who didn't kick on but were big on the scene like Jackson Nicolau, Anthony Perkins and Michael Bond.

So when Melbourne lost Matt Orford (Manly), Steve Bell (Manly) and Robbie Kearns (retirement) in 2005 it wasn't the end of the world like it should have been. By his 4th year he had a very talented group of footballers who had been educated in his system. While they didn't have the flair of the previous teams, Melbourne would play a far more consistent brand of football as they played the percentages and began to focus more on their defence.

Those early days were frustrating for Melbourne but by showing patience Bellamy was able to build the best system in the sport. Even after losing Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater and Cameron Smith Melbourne continue to develop the best footballers who continue to work together tirelessly.
 
Well written Pete........

Rhyming Leonardo Dicaprio GIF
 
I stopped reading at Melbourne Storm and Dynasty - why provide further praise to the most cheating club of all time?
There's been a lot of discussion on here about Craig Bellamy style players. Further to that, when Brisbane signed Seibold I was curious to see what Bellamy did over in Melbourne with his roster since they were in a similar position.

There's an elephant in the room when discussing Melbourne but at the core they're undeniably better at this sport than most teams. There's only a couple who can really give them a run for their money.

This wasn't an excuse just to talk about the greatness of Craig Bellamy, I want this to be a place where fans can talk about all sorts of topics.
 
Fantastic post @Big Pete, really enjoyed reading that.

Storm were always my second team in those early days, but then we copped a drubbing from them maybe in 2005 or 2006? I can't remember exactly when it was, and after that I couldn't stand them, and some of the 'tactics' they employed on the field.

They may have played within the rules, but they certainly pushed them to the limit, and I think it's completely changed the game... for the worse. Maybe I would be less bitter if it wasn't the Storm (and everything they've done) we were talking about, though.
 
There's been a lot of discussion on here about Craig Bellamy style players. Further to that, when Brisbane signed Seibold I was curious to see what Bellamy did over in Melbourne with his roster since they were in a similar position.

There's an elephant in the room when discussing Melbourne but at the core they're undeniably better at this sport than most teams. There's only a couple who can really give them a run for their money.

This wasn't an excuse just to talk about the greatness of Craig Bellamy, I want this to be a place where fans can talk about all sorts of topics.

Of course you are right, I'm just ticked off about this whole TPJ thing, I need to take a chill pill.
 
Fantastic post @Big Pete, really enjoyed reading that.

Storm were always my second team in those early days, but then we copped a drubbing from them maybe in 2005 or 2006? I can't remember exactly when it was, and after that I couldn't stand them, and some of the 'tactics' they employed on the field.

They may have played within the rules, but they certainly pushed them to the limit, and I think it's completely changed the game... for the worse. Maybe I would be less bitter if it wasn't the Storm (and everything they've done) we were talking about, though.
One of the big turning points in their history was a 31-14 win against Brisbane in the 2004 finals. Brisbane led 14-8 at half-time but Scott Hill had a sensational second half and a lot of the young players like Billy Slater, Ryan Hoffman, Matt King stood up as well and blew the Broncos off the field.

It was third time the charm for Melbourne. They had Brisbane beaten in 2003 and in an earlier 2004 game only for Brisbane to mount comebacks and beat them. To Bellamy it proved the Broncos perception of Melbourne as true. An extremely skillful side, but just no steel.

You could be thinking of the Round 4 2005 clash where Melbourne produced a then-record score against the Broncos.
 
You could be thinking of the Round 4 2005 clash where Melbourne produced a then-record score against the Broncos.

That would be it. 50-4 or something? Think it was a Saturday night and I tuned in on the wireless.

Was not happy.
 
I've got to be completely upfront, my knowledge of anything pre-2000s is completely rudimentary. It's something I'd love to expand on in the coming weeks and hopefully when NRL.com expands their on-demand service which they keep promising but seldom deliver on.

I didn't want to leave this thread hanging so the next topic I wanted to talk about was one that you're all familiar with, the Brisbane Broncos post-1998.

At the time, the Brisbane Broncos were in a class of their own and while they weren't invincible if they turned up nobody could match them. I thought they demonstrated this in the finals when they stumbled against Parramatta. The Eels were too clever for the Broncos on the day and just employed this tactic where they would put the ball out of play and just wouldn't allow the Broncos to get any sort of rhythm. Brisbane would quickly find another gear and absolutely thumped Melbourne and Sydney before running over the top off a gallant Bulldogs outfit to claim premiership #4.

It seemed like there was no reason why the Broncos wouldn't claim premiership #5 the following year. They had lost Darren Smith but they had cover and on top of that they had just added one of the most promising dummy halves to their ranks in Luke Priddis. It really seemed like a matter of when, not if.

However as it's been well documented, Brisbane started the season horribly with a 1-1-8 record and Alf sensationally called time after a horrible start. Looking back on that period, while a couple of the senior players had hit the wall and just couldn't replicate what they were able to the year before I also think the game had changed.

Teams were moving away from exciting attacking football and were beginning to rely more on flat football where they would constantly rotate their unlimited interchanges and just steam-roll the opposition into submission.

This approach stood in conflict of the Broncos who had a few set structures but largely the team was built around players like Langer and giving them a license to conjure up their magic. With Alf out of the picture, the whole dynamic of the team changed. The team started to play a lot more structured football and switched their focus from attack to defence.

There was less flair about how they approached their football, but the Broncos had found some grit and it was through that style a player like Gorden Tallis, Luke Priddis and Kevin Campion really began to lead the way. Campion for mine is one player who doesn't get enough attention when it comes to those teams but he was such an unselfish player who in those tough moments would really stick out.

At the end of the day the Broncos finished 13-2-11 to qualify 8th and while they were easily disposed of by Cronulla in the final Bennett had got a head-start on the 2000 premiership and was about to unleash one of the most dominant 'rebuilding' teams in history.

Next time I pick this up, I want to cover 2000-01 - how the Broncos were able to become so dominant and how quickly they were eclipsed by other clubs.
 
When the Broncos entered the 2000s season, they were expected to be competitive but nobody thought they'd be as dominant as they were. They were a team going through a transition and while they had some good players in Lockyer, Tallis, Sailor, Webcke etc. it remained to be seen whether they could match it with the top teams.

That expectation was reflected in the season opener against Wests where Brisbane did well just to draw against an unfancied Tigers outfit. Brisbane just struggled to combine effectively the Ikin-Sailor combination in particular was just like oil and water. In the end it came down to some individual brilliance for the Broncos to conjure up a comeback, only for Caine to run past Walker to split the points between the two clubs.

As an aside the Wests Tigers would actually entrench themselves well inside the Top 8 for the majority of the 2000 season. Unfortunately for them they had a horrible back-end to the season which saw them plummet down the ladder.

Brisbane were far from a dominant team but the team came up with a couple of victories that were really important. I'd say the most important was a victory they stole from Cronulla in Round 4 where they somehow found a way to win. Cronulla had done enough to win the game but in the dying stages, Brad Thorn found himself with the football and put up a hail merry kick which Dell happened to claim and scored.

What that victory did is just give the Broncos that confidence and they invariably won those close contests. It also gave Brisbane an idea of what team they were post-Alfie and despite trying to play a traditional style of football it wasn't working for them. So they made the decision to shift Ikin to five-eighth and Carroll into the centres with Berrigan as the utility if they needed more strike.

Once Brisbane established that combination they were virtually unbeatable and had such a strong team across the park. Building off the platform they set in 1999, Brisbane played a power game with Lote Tuqiri coming of age and quickly establishing himself as one of the top wingers in the competition. Luke Priddis took more responsibility and was one of the best dummy halves in the competition. Fans will also point out a player like Harvey Howard who was this no-nonsense prop from England via the Magpies who did a fantastic job of filling in for Andrew Gee.

They also had some really good young players coming through. Ash Harrison in his rookie season looked like he was going to be the next Johnny Raper. He was an excellent defender but he could also ball-play and he gave Brisbane another option whenever he came onto the field. Darren Mapp was a hero in one of the Broncos most important games of the season the Round 10 18-all draw with Melbourne. Brisbane lost three players during the course of the game, which during the unlimited interchanges era was huge and yet Mapp really stood up in that game and earned himself a contract with Canberra. Then you had players like Carl Webb, Justin Hodges, Danny Bampton really turn heads.

The other thing to take note off is that in just two years, the competition had gone from 20 teams to 14. That meant you had a lot of strong rosters, but teams were struggling to build the right combinations. The horrible start to 1999 provided Brisbane with a silver lining since it gave them a head-start and the Broncos only had to make minimal changes to build this super-team.

I won't go too in-depth about the rest of the season. The cliff-notes version is that Brisbane ramped it up before the finals, suffered a scare when they lost Webcke and got beaten 28-0 by Sydney. However once they came back from 20-6 HT deficit against Cronulla they just did enough to beat Parramatta and Sydney to win premiership #5. Webcke returned for the semi and it just gave the teams even more inspiration and they just seemed to always have their noses infront.

It's a lot of preamble to get to the period I really want to talk about. The main point I want to get across here is that in 1998 Brisbane proved they were the undisputed champions of Rugby League. In 1999 that all came to a violent crash and right as it seemed like the club had come down to earth, they quickly pick themselves back up and have an even more dominant 2000 season where they win it comfortably. Brisbane were just a juggernaught, but that would be the end of an era with the ensuing years being a real mixed bag.
 
Coming off of Super League, the game had entered a period of turbulence where clubs were either forced to merge or fold altogether. In order for clubs to pay their player's wages, the NRL introduced salary cap concessions that allowed clubs to field squads that far exceeded the salary cap. On top of that, extended benches and unlimited interchanges were used in-line with the earlier start to the 2000 season which had to wrap up before the Olympics.

Going into 2001 the game was beginning to return some normalcy. A 12 interchange limit was introduced and the salary cap concessions were being eased so teams had to manage their rosters more carefully.

It's one of the reasons why Parramatta were so dominant that season. Brian Smith had done a fantastic job of developing these younger fitter players and on top of that he identified early on the importance of a quality dummy half. That season a former Penrith Panthers player Brad Drew had this spectacular season where he would just initiate attacking wave after attacking wave allowing the likes of Brett Hodgson, Jamie Lyon, Jason Moodie etc. to take full advantage.

Brisbane weren't quite as prepared. Their roster had taken a hit after losing Kevie Walters, Brad Thorn, Tonie Carroll, Kevin Campion, Harvey Howard etc.and the squad became a lot younger. There was talk early on about signing Andrew Johns for the 2001 season which would have destroyed the competition, but the Broncos had to settle for one of the best young playmakers in the competition in Scott Prince.

Princey was one of those exciting players who every now and then would turn heads in an otherwise bad Cowboys outfit. At 20 years old, he had the world at his feet and was the most likely player to fill the shoes Walters had left. However it wasn't an easy transition at all for Prince and he really struggled to assert himself in the team. After a pretty ordinary start to the season, Prince found himself on the bench and later dropped.

Prince never quite found the form expected of him at the club. Everytime it seemed like he was beginning to turn a corner, he'd suffer some set-back. Before Yow Yeh, one of the most horrific injuries in a Broncos jersey was Scott Prince's broken leg which echoed through out QEII Stadium in a game against the Bulldogs. Then around that time, Prince lost his father to tragic circumstances. It's a real credit to him he was able to turn it around and have the career he did. Unfortunately for the Broncos those initial struggles set the tone for what was to come.

Brisbane still had a great team that year and were still well and truly in a premiership window. However as the season wore on the injuries started to pile up and it was the first season where we saw the start of an unfortunate trend, the post-Origin season slump.

After Origin III, Brisbane would go on a 1-7 run into the finals and just always seemed to be playing off the back foot. Injuries certainly played their part but it just seemed like Brisbane had run their race as a team.

Looking back on it, the Broncos just missed that ruggedness and starch players like Kevin Campion, Brad Thorn and Harvey Howard brought. Brad Meyers, Carl Webb, Corey Parker etc. tried hard but they just didn't have the confidence to help the team out.

On top of that the salary cap started to make an impact. Dell didn't show up that year until his final two games after signing with the Reds and Luke Priddis really struggled to make the same impact as the previous year after being moved on by the club. On top of that you had the Justin Hodges drama which dominated headlines and really painted the Broncos in a bad light.

So much of the run towards the finals came down to Lockyer, and while Darren would play out of his skin and play some unbelievable footy, it was just rarely enough. The only real highlight from that period was the Semi against St George where Wendell woke up and had one of the most dominant games you'll see from a winger.

2001 was one of the hardest seasons the club had been through. Not only did they have a horrific injury toll but they lost one of their founders in Paul Morgan. Still, they pushed Parramatta in the Prelim Final and ended the year with their head held high. They were no longer the dominant team in the competition, but they weren't going to go away yet.

I won't go into too much depth with 2002. It was very similar to 2001 except Brisbane had more leadership with guys like Allan Langer, Andrew Gee and Gorden Tallis back from injury and stints in the UK. Their presence made the Broncos a stronger team but still in that run to the finals they were found wanting. They lost to all the other Top 4 teams on the way to the finals, with Waratahs bound Lote Tuqiri getting out-played by John Morris of all-players who found himself on the wing for Newcastle. I thought that performance typified Lote's form-slump, from one of the most destructive players in the competition to someone getting dominated by a utility.

In the end they lost to Sydney by 4 points in close final marred by controversy. Putting the Harrigan performance to the side, Brisbane just didn't have the intensity or class of prior teams. Unfortunately the salary cap by this point had well and truly taken hold. On top of losing Tuqiri, one of the world's best players, the return of South Sydney saw Chris Walker and Ash Harrison depart the club.

The Broncos who had built their reputation on exciting backline stars like Hancock, Renouf, Sailor, Carne etc. were beginning to look far less threatening. While you couldn't say they weren't a good team, it seemed like only a matter of time before they went through some lean years.

With the premiership window winding down I'm going to look largely at 2004 and how a gamble brought the Broncos back into prominence.
 
I drifted away from footy for a few years in the mid 2000’s and only saw the inception of the GC Titans from distance. I have no idea how a new club is born. With the talk of expansion I would love for @Big Pete or others to give a summary of how that all went down as far as player signings, initial fan base etc.
 
I drifted away from footy for a few years in the mid 2000’s and only saw the inception of the GC Titans from distance. I have no idea how a new club is born. With the talk of expansion I would love for @Big Pete or others to give a summary of how that all went down as far as player signings, initial fan base etc.
Only thing I can recall about the titans is that it was very much expected... I can't quite remember if AFL beat NRL to the jump with the Suns, but the NRL always had to respond with the titans.

I think the big issue with the titans at least initially would've been having zero history or reputation... they could've quite easily just marketted them as the seagulls to link with Tweed or the bears to link with Burleigh and also North Sydney (just to keep NSWRL happy)... although NSWRL were probably still hopeful that the bears might come back, and they may have even been part of the bidding process??

Instead they went with a full plastic completely manufactured team and just assumed it would work, because at that point NRL was absolutely flying and TV deals were through the roof.

I feel like they thought they could just chuck any team in there and it would be successful.

From the recruitment front it was all very heavy on NSW'men... Luke Bailey and Preston were the big signings, but they also threw a bone to Prince and Rogers as qld'ers... unfortunately most of them were reaching the back end of their careers, except maybe Bailey?? (he might've been mid-late 20's)... but to me it pretty quickly became a retirement home and pseudo NSW heavy team (Lafranchi was big for them, Gordan was a NSW'men??). Just seemed like they had no decent qld juniors in their ranks (I'm sure they did, but I don't follow the school boys comps).

They also focussed their juniors on the northern rivers, which is more NSW'men.

I think they took far far too long to get Keebra Park on board (although I think Tigers had a mortgage of sorts on the rights), but they have been a powerhouse school for a long time and located in their backyard... so it should've been an absolute priority for them.


This time around they've had 3 Brisbane bids and all the bids have a link back to the ISC... so they've all been very targetted and the link to local teams instantly brings history and a supporter base.

There has also been an emphasis (at least from the media) for the new team to target young superstar Queenslanders (Munster, etc.), which will instantly bring credibility.

I think the new Brisbane team has been set up to be pretty successful pretty quickly.
 
Only thing I can recall about the titans is that it was very much expected... I can't quite remember if AFL beat NRL to the jump with the Suns, but the NRL always had to respond with the titans.

I think the big issue with the titans at least initially would've been having zero history or reputation... they could've quite easily just marketted them as the seagulls to link with Tweed or the bears to link with Burleigh and also North Sydney (just to keep NSWRL happy)... although NSWRL were probably still hopeful that the bears might come back, and they may have even been part of the bidding process??

Instead they went with a full plastic completely manufactured team and just assumed it would work, because at that point NRL was absolutely flying and TV deals were through the roof.

I feel like they thought they could just chuck any team in there and it would be successful.

From the recruitment front it was all very heavy on NSW'men... Luke Bailey and Preston were the big signings along with Prince and Rogers... unfortunately most of them were reaching the back end of their careers, except maybe Bailey?? (he might've been mid-late 20's)... but to me it pretty quickly became a retirement home and pseudo NSW heavy team.

They also focussed their juniors on the northern rivers, which is more NSW'men.

I think they took far far too long to get Keebra Park on board (although I think Tigers had a mortgage of sorts on the rights), but they have been a powerhouse school for a long time and located in their backyard.


This time around they've had 3 Brisbane bids and all the bids have tried to link back to the ISC... so they've all been very targetted and the link to local teams instantly brings history and a supporter base.

There has also been an emphasis (at least from the media) for the new team to target young superstar Queenslanders (Munster, etc.), which will instantly bring credibility.

I think the new Brisbane team has been set up to be pretty successful pretty quickly.
Scott Prince was the real VIP signing for me, and he was just hitting his prime then. I gotta say, I actually enjoyed watching them play early on, largely thanks to him.
 
Scott Prince was the real VIP signing for me, and he was just hitting his prime then. I gotta say, I actually enjoyed watching them play early on, largely thanks to him.
I think Presto and Bailey were the first signings though weren't they??

Thought Presto was sort of 'presented as a titan' during the GF before their first year wasn't he??

Thought Prince was getting to the back end of his 20's by the time he started with the Titans (and nearing 30 was considered to be getting on in NRL back then)... he was probably the marquee that they were looking for, but I don't really recall him being a constant origin player for qld at that point (Lockyer and JT, with Cronk already starting to hit his straps).

Rogers had come back from union and was looking old.. think Bailey was the big origin level player that they had early on. Presto was obviously an excellent player but couldn't crack the NSW teams.
 
Only thing I can recall about the titans is that it was very much expected... I can't quite remember if AFL beat NRL to the jump with the Suns, but the NRL always had to respond with the titans.
Titans were well before the Suns- 2007 vs 2011.
 

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